LOS ANGELES — As more presidential candidates throw their hat in the race for 2024, questions about each potential nominee’s ability arise.
For President Joe Biden, his age is attracting increased scrutiny. At 80 years old, Biden is the oldest president in U.S. history. Former President Donald Trump isn’t far behind; he was 70 when he was elected.
If Biden is reelected for a second term, he would be 86 years old at the end of his term. However, Jessica Levinson, a professor of election law at Loyola Law School, said age is a less pressing issue for many voters than legislation.
“People can vote for someone, regardless of how old they are," she said. "The question really will be, can the candidates speak to issues affecting that generation? Can they address issues like health care, student loans and the environment in ways that indicate to young voters that they understand what they care about?”
However, Biden’s age continues to raise questions and some concern among voters. According to a poll conducted by Yahoo and YouGov in early 2023, 67% of Americans surveyed felt the president was too old for a second term.
Seventy percent of those surveyed said they were concerned about the president’s health and mental acuity. It’s a concern the president has begun to address head on. At the White House Correspondent’s Dinner in April, Biden made light of the age question stating, “You call me old? I call it being seasoned. You say I’m ancient? I say I’m wise.”
Levinson said this will be an ongoing tactic that the president will likely take throughout his campaign.
“The more President Biden can use humor and say, 'I understand I’m old, but I’m up to the job,' here’s a joke we can all understand, the better it is for him. Former President Regan did the same thing,” she said.
Levinson added that each candidate might harness their age to their own advantage. Biden will focus on experience, while Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis — now also running for president — might focus on how his own age, 44, sets him apart from both Trump and Biden.
"You can bet he’s going to talk a lot about how he’s younger," she said. "He’s a father. He wants a certain vision of the world for his young children, and you will hear him talk a lot about which generation he’s part of."
No matter who the nominee is, Levinson said gaining support from the youngest voting block in the country will be crucial.
“If Gen Z and millennials show up, commensurate with their percentage of the electorate, then they could swing a lot of elections,” she said.
According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, Gen Z and millennials, which include everyone born after 1981, will make up 48.5% of the potential voting population by 2024.